High-speed chase ends in Buckeye

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Efrin Lopez Espinoza By Jennifer Thomas Efrin Lopez Espinoza By Jennifer Thomas
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

BUCKEYE, Ariz. -- A high-speed chase along Interstate 10 ended in Buckeye Tuesday night, with the arrest of a 25-year-old driver.

Arizona Department of Public Safety officials said the man, later identified as Efrin Lopez Espinoza, was a passenger in a car driven by a 17-year-old through rural LaPaz County in western Arizona.

An officer pulled the car over for a routine violation. While the minor driver was being questioned outside, Espinoza hopped behind the wheel and drove off. 

Speeds reached 100 miles per hour during the chase, which lasted 80 miles.

A Buckeye police officer used a spike strip in the road to shred one of the car's tires. Espinoza kept going as the rubber ripped off, and he was left with only the rim.

"It came off in pieces, but he was still able to drive many miles," said DPS Sgt. John Ortolano.

Eventually, the suspect gave up, and pulled off on the Watson Road exit in Buckeye.

Officers say they found a military-grade rifle in the car, along with drug paraphenalia.

Espinoza was charged with reckless driving, driving on a suspended license, unlawful flight from law enforcement and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The motive behind the chase was unclear Tuesday night. Officers say the driver was wanted, but on a minor warrant.

The investigation is ongoing.